Employment Law Firm in California
Retaliation is an illegal action that an employer takes against an employee to punish him or her for engaging in a legally protected activity, such as reporting wrongdoing or participating in a discrimination or harassment investigation. In fact, retaliation was the most common type of charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2018.
If you believe you were the victim of an adverse employment action — such as being demoted or fired — because you reported or confronted wrongdoing in your workplace, you may be entitled to compensation as a victim of workplace retaliation.
Equal Employment Opportunity Laws (EEO) laws exist to prohibit the punishment of any job applicants or employees who assert their rights to be free from discrimination in the workplace. These activities can take many forms, but they all fall under the category of protected activity.
It’s important to know that an employer is still free to discipline or fire an employee as long as they are motivated by non-retaliatory reasons. Further, an employer is forbidden from doing anything in response to an employee’s EEO activity that may serve to discourage an employee from resisting or complaining about discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
The general rule is that only changes which have an adverse effect on your employment count as retaliatory.
Let’s consider an example. Say that you complained about a manager’s sexual harassment and his attitude towards you becomes different from one day to the next. However, if he simply acts more distant and not as “friendly” as before, his behavior is not retaliatory.
However, there’s reason for concern if something negative happens to you immediately after filing a complaint, or for just discussing a potentially problematic issue. Say that you were fired for not “being a good fit” after you complained to your company’s Human Resources department about your boss sexually harassing you. In that case, you may have a very strong argument that your boss retaliated against you for complaining about him.
Finally, not all instances of retaliation are as obvious as being fired for reporting harassment. Retaliation may also include suddenly being micromanaged by your boss or being excluded from staff meetings that are relevant to your work.
Retaliation is any illegal action that an employer takes against an employee to punish him or her for engaging in a legally protected activity. Retaliation includes all actions that are “materially adverse.” In other words, these are actions which could deter someone from engaging in a protected activity.
Materially adverse actions include:
On the other hand, minor annoyances or actions that are not likely to dissuade an employee from engaging in protected activity will not count as “materially adverse.” For example, temporarily moving someone from an office to a cubicle is, while annoying, not an example of materially adverse action.
Protected activity and a materially adverse action both may have occurred, but evidence of the following — on its own or in combination — may severely undermine an employee’s ability to prove the adverse action he or she suffered was motivated by retaliation:
Absolutely not. An employee cannot violate employer rules, neglect his or her job duties, or do anything that may result in poor job performance simply because he or she is participating in an investigation.
If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The workplace retaliation lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling workplace retaliation cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a workplace retaliation attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.